The Fears of a Black Disabled Woman in America
“Hands up, don’t shoot!”
The line that initially was chanted along with the #BlackLivesMatter movement pleaded with police to stop shooting (and killing) black people without cause — especially those who weren’t even armed. The hashtag and protests really boomed back in 2013 following the senseless murder of an unarmed child, Trayvon Martin, a year prior. Since then, we’ve lost many lives to a similar fate. We have seen the murders play out on television and phone screens — sometimes, even in too much detail, as we are traumatized by seeing literal deaths take place. Sometimes the policemen who are standing on the other side of the gun(s) are indicted, often times they aren’t. But the family members, friends and supporters are left with anger, disgust and confusion as their loved ones are lost to a violence they can’t find justice for. It’s a powerless feeling.
“Hands up, don’t shoot!”
That chant is what fellow Black people shout in unison to provoke change.
But then again, what about us? I, a Black disabled woman, built a community of equality, recognition of others’ regardless of their differences and safety, above all: Girls Chronically Rock. I look around at what I call my #GCRFamily and notice that many of us — myself included — may not be able to join in. Some of us in wheelchairs, more complex contraptions or using breathing devices may not be able to go out and protest in defense and support of our blackness. Some of us also may not be able to join in on the police’s “orders” should they come our way.
I’ve given a lot of thought about this and what this could mean….
As a Black woman, I worry that I could die at the hands of the system. What if I can’t “get on the ground” or “put [my] hands up” fast enough? What if I’m at home and unable to answer the door? Will they barge in? Will they tackle me? I may not be able to defend myself — but then again, even if I did, all roads seem to lead to death.
I am proud to be who I am. I am Black. I am woman. I am disabled. All of the above. If it wasn’t for the intersection of those three things, there would be no Girls Chronically Rock: No line. No blog. No family.
But I recognize that last attribute is just another target on my back. While I move by faith, it’s hard not to let fear seep in from time to time. As if being Black wasn’t enough, I have another disadvantage to the system making it easier to be in harm’s way at the hands of police brutality.
I am still here, though. And while I am, I choose to press on and be a vessel of comfort and a voice in the ways I can.
While others are marching and actively fighting for our rights as Black people, I encourage you: don’t forget about me. Don’t forget about us. Those who cannot physically be on the frontlines, but want our lives to matter just the same. March for us. Speak up for us. Protect us.
We are afraid. We are worried. We are Black. And our lives matter, too.
Image via Keisha Greaves